Text Ads vs. Shopping Ads: The Power of an Integrated Search Approach

One of the largest challenges that high SKU, multi-brand eCommerce companies face is understanding how to leverage all the different types of advertising that traditional search engines offer. More specifically, when should a brand invest in shopping ads vs. text ads? By leveraging Rise’s proprietary analytics platform, Connex®, we have developed unique ways of helping brands draw clear lines between when to use shopping, when to use text, and when to use both.

Key Differences of Shopping Ads vs. Text Ads

Although shopping and text ads appear on the same page of search results, there are some key differences to how they are managed. While text ads come with a high degree of flexibility around landing pages, ad copy, headlines, and keywords to bid on, shopping ads are a bit more rigid.
Shopping ads are primarily driven by a feed that is created based on the products on a brand’s website. The products contained within the feed are put into groups and those product groups are then bid on by an advertiser. When running shopping ads, brands must drive to a specific product detail page (PDP), whereas text ads can be sent either to a PDP or a general category/sub-category landing page. Due to these differences, there is significant value for brands that can develop an integrated approach using the different formats to accomplish different objectives.

Understanding Keyword Intent and Performance
One way to develop an integrated approach is to take every keyword and product that is active and assign an ‘intent’ to it. First, start by mapping out different objectives. This would be determining which are better suited for a category-based search vs. a product-based search. For example, a category-based search could be the keyword “mens jeans” while a product-based search could be “mens levis 211.”  For product-based searches, shopping ad campaigns will almost always outperform text campaigns. However, for general category-based searches, it is very difficult to match someone searching for “mens jeans” to their exact desired product.
Secondly, it is important to determine the different levels of competition for each keyword. If historical performance shows that a specific product-based search is highly competitive and driving an increase in cost-per-clicks, then it may be worth implementing a strategy to test text ads for similar search queries to compare performance between the two tactics. Additionally, shopping ads that contain the most price competitive offers typically generate the best return.

How to Drive Optimizations
Creating a holistic strategy that prioritizes both shopping and text ad campaign data can be challenging, especially accessing integrated insights that help drive decision making about when to use each ad format. In order to solve these challenges, Rise developed Connex, our proprietary reporting and analytics platform that aggregates data across dozens of sources. By having access to this slough of data within one platform, it enables our team and our clients to identify better insights faster than the competition.
By leveraging Connex, we can find opportunities to move budget between shopping and text ads at a high-level (Google shopping vs. text or Bing shopping vs. text), as well as at a granular level (product or product group). We’ve also developed reports that, with one click of a button, identify wasted text ad spend and identify exactly where to re-deploy that spend if there’s a more efficient or better performing area within a shopping ad (and vice-versa). Below is a snapshot of Connex showing a simple example of the performance for the product sub-category “eyeliner” between text and shopping.

Additionally, shopping ad performance is highly driven by the visuals. Not only does the product image occupy the majority of the shopping ad real estate, but also the creative and prices are prominently featured side-by-side amongst competitors. If advertisers are not confident in the visual support for certain products within their feed, it might make sense to re-funnel that spend into text ads. Within shopping ads, advertisers should also prioritize optimizing products with the most competitive price points to drive better performance.
Whether spending a higher percentage of your paid search budget in shopping or in text, the high SKU, multi-brand eCommerce companies that are taking an integrated approach to their search campaigns have the competitive edge. .

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About Rise Interactive

Rise Interactive is an award-winning digital marketing agency, specializing in media, analytics, and creative & development. The agency is a strategic partner, helping marketing leaders make smarter investment decisions, grounded in data insights. Rise manages enterprise-level campaigns and analytics across all channels of digital marketing.